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Nowadays, when the trend in backstroke seems to be less rotation and faster turnover, people look at my stroke and my big rotation and say, you know... you should think about changing the way you swim.
The truth is that I’ve tried all these things, but...for me...they’ve never really worked.
For me, a big rotation is the key to my entire stroke. It’s the starting point. And even if I’m the only person in the world who does this, if it works for me, then maybe there are other swimmers out there who might get something out of it.
The important thing is to keep an open mind and to know there are lots of ways to swim fast.
For me, rotation affects everything... from my catch to my kick.
I use a big rotation, and I try to rotate an equal amount on both sides.
But even with a big rotation, I try to keep my head perfectly still. You don’t want your head moving around and rotating with you.
In this clip, focus just on the hips, and notice how they generate power and drive the stroke. With a big hip rotation, I get power from the core, and not just from my arms and legs.
When I race the 200 backstroke, my hip rotation will be about the same as you see here. It doesn’t matter if I’m going slow or fast... the rotation is what drives the stroke.
In a 100, when the pace is faster, the rotation is a little bit less, but I still use more than most other backstrokers because it’s what works for me.
My favorite drill for working on rotation is to do 6 kicks on one side -- with one arm up and the other arm down -- and then take one stroke and rotate to 6 kicks on the other side.
I try to kick completely on one side, so I’m completely vertical. And I try to maintain a constant kick as I’m rotating from one side to the other.
Then take it to 3 kicks on a side, still exaggerating the rotation and getting ALL the way on your side.
And then take it to one kick on a side. At one kick per side, there’s not much time in between, but you should still try to exaggerate the rotation.
And you want to keep your head perfectly still. This drill helps you work on head position and a constant kick, but it really helps exaggerate your rotation.
It will make this amount of rotation feel a lot easier, and will teach you how to get more power from your core.
Before we go to the next chapter and talk about the catch, I want to point out one more thing about my rotation.
The reason I’m able to rotate so much is that my shoulders and hips aren’t 100 percent together. I actually rotate my shoulders first... and then I rotate my hips.
Here it is again. It’s not a big delay, but you can see that the shoulder leads... and the hips follow just a fraction behind.
Hang on to that, and in the next section we’ll see how it ties into the catch.